12/08/2013 10:30 am ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

Good morning everyone, welcome back from what I hope was a very happy Thanksgiving break, to your Sunday morning liveblog of the chattering simps that people point teevee cameras out, for reasons no one has ever fully explained or understood. My name is Jason, and we are pressing ahead to the exciting Series Finale of the Sunday Morning Liveblog on December 29th.

I get emails, by the way, that "Meet The Press" is the top rated "public affairs program." I am curious as to how they, or anyone, defines "public affairs?" Are they having affairs with the public? I do not get it. Shouldn't the category by "Beltway-based wanking?" I have been watching these shows for six years and have never seen any evidence that the public is part of their considerations.

Today, for example, I' will have to get very creative to avoid having to watch three solid hours of chit-chat on Really Deep Thinkers and their Really Deep Thoughts on Nelson Mandela. Some of which may be insightful, or well-expressed, mind you! But I mean, how long would you willingly spend in a room full of people having a competition to see who can best who in a game of televised thanatological one-upsmanship? I mean, could you even stand it for fifteen minutes? Oh well, I guess it limits the amount of time they can make hash out of contemporary politics, I guess.

Anyway, the usual stuff still applies. Mix it up in the comments if you like, hit me up if you need, follow me on Twitter if you want, and check out my Rebel Mouse page for this week's Sunday Reads if you can -- theoretically, you got two weeks' worth!


Today, on the McLaughlin Group is our bureau chief, Ryan Grim, and the conventional wisdom of course, is that you should be a huge sell-out and go easy on your boss. But with Ryan, that's the sort of thing that would really disappoint him! So I should probably be comically hard on him. But that would be a bigger form of selling out, wouldn't it? I guess this means that since he's a guest on this show, he and I and the rest of you are just going to have to agree to gaslight one another, and just have fun doing so.

Also on the panel with Ryan is of course, host John McLaughlin -- who is wearing a pinstripe suit so bold that I have to imagine some small aircraft are going to attempt to land on him -- Pat Buchanan, Eleanor Clift, and Mort Zuckerman

The one thing that separates Ryan from the rest of the panel, here, is that Ryan is probably really, really high. At least I think that's what separates him from the rest of the panel!

McLaughling briefly eulogizes Nelson Mandela, speaking for the group when he wishes him the best possible parting from this plane, which is for the best because you don't want Pat Buchanan to have any ideas. In the meantime, he wants to talk about Joe Biden, his visit to China, and some of the recent upticks in tensions in the South China and East China seas. In the past few days, the U.S. have flown bombers over disputed open waters in flagrant trolling of China, and China has flown fighter pilots at the U.S. right back, and it's all fun and games until someone aims a missile at someone else.

Buchanan says that in all of this aerial trolling China took "two steps forward and one steps back" and a "victory for China" that sets up a "major confrontation" down the line. They are "pushing against the United States," and "down the road" China wants to move his country out into the Pacific "and push the Americans back."

Clift says that it was fortuitous that China was there -- maybe he showed China our top secret death robot prototypes and warned that today we were cancelling the apocalypse, and the Chinese officials he met with were all, "I wouldn't call slightly changing the order of things in the Pacific 'the apocalypse'" but then some other guys were like, "Forget it, it's Joe Biden and he's rolling."

She says that there will be "simmering tensions," but as "long as those tensions can be kept at a reasonable level" then we are going to be fine.

Ryan says that if U.S. airliners are presenting their flight plans to China as a matter of course, when before they didn't because of the fact that there was no reason to believe that China had any claim over the places they were flying, then China wins, agreeing with Buchanan's "two steps forward, one step back" construction.

McLaughlin doesn't understand the whole bit with civilian airliners, and the panel endeavors to explain. Zuckerman finally breaks through by pointing out that the change here is that we're even honoring the notion that the Chinese have claims to territories -- a notion we'd previously ignored. Zuckerman, ever the pecksniff, says that everyone knows that the U.S. is just going to "back off."

McLaughlin suggests that China could keep on making claims to turf that's currently known as "Korea" and "Vietnam" and "India" and "the Philippines." Buchanan says, "Huh, no?" and notes that Korea and Japan actually have similar disputes. The whole region is rife with "unresolved territorial claims" and it's resource rich and so the United States is embroiled in a lot of refereeing.

Clift and Buchanan yell about the Germans and Czechs. McLaughlin says that unresolved claims are bad. Zuckerman is also really concerned. Clift and Buchanan yell some more.

Ryan, man, you need to jump in and say something completely crazy while you have the opportunity! He's trying but he's not willing to interrupt Clift. Just do it, she gets to talk a lot!

Finally, Ryan breaks in by noting the fact that we are limited in what we can do, and what power we can project, because we wasted a lot of capital -- human and otherwise -- by invading Iraq and Afghanistan.

Buchanan yammers something I don't catch because I'm too busy admiring my boss for finally getting a word in edgewise and making a good point despite the fact that he is so stoned and obviously in need of some pizza right now? And then the conversation sort of peters out.

You know, producers of this show, you can actually edit things so that it doesn't look like everyone just lost interest in what was happening!

Anyway, the next topic is President Obama's speech on income inequality, and how populist he is getting, six years after it would have really mattered!

Obama wants a higher minimum wage, of course, and he's probably a few steps behind the bulk of American people, who have long wanted one, and who apparently want to push the envelope a bit further than even the Democrats want to do.

Clift says the bottom line is that below the top ten percent, wages have stagnated for decades, and that many businesses that are paying their workers so little are actually leeching off the taxpayer by driving up the need for subsidies like food stamps and housing assistance. Clift says that the Henry Ford philosophy -- "pay your people the amount it would take them to purchase the product you are selling" -- is the way to do here.

For some reason, McDonalds this year, on it's "McResource Line" website, posted "a tipping etiquette guide that suggests holiday bonuses for such common hired helpers as au pairs (one week's pay or a gift from the family), housekeepers (one day's pay), and pool cleaners (the cost of one cleaning)."

Do they think their employees own a lot of swimming pools?

McLaughlin sort of doesn't understand the concept -- pointing out that these people get food stamps and Obamaphones, calling them "additional cost benefits." Clift attempts to explain that this is the case -- these workers don't starve to death because of taxpayer subsidies -- because despite the record-setting profits, the private sector is unwilling or unable to pay them enough money so that they do not die of starvation and exposure in ditches and forests and gutters.

Zuckerman says that the real problem is that we are in a weak recovery, and that no one can afford to pay higher wages, which may be true, but this inequality was present in the pre-recession period as well.

Buchanan yells about test scores, and then complains that McDonalds will go out of business if they raise the minimum wage.


Grim finally gets in and points out that there is just no material or statistical evidence that suggests there will be increased joblessness as a result of raising the minimum wage. Buchanan does the slippery slope thing, where you say, "Well, what if you raised the minimum wage to $20/hour" and Ryan says, "That's not going to happen." Buchanan is insistent. "WHAT IF WE DID RYAN WHAT IF THE MINIMUM WAGE WAS A PONY THAT POOPED BUFFALO NICKELS AND BEEF JERKY HUH WHAT THEN?" Ryan says that yes, if you tripled everyone's wages, you would lose a few jobs.

That was good enough trolling to get everyone yelling, and finally McLaughlin shouts at Buchanan that right now we are "robbing the poor to pay the rich"...which was the point Clift was trying to make? Either McLaughlin now finally understands that and agrees or was giving Clift a super-hard time a few minute ago despite agreeing.

Zuckerman says that the drop of unemployment says that we are having a "modest recovery" but it isn't good enough -- we need everyone to get a lot more educated and we need bigger infrastructure guys, get with it! (He should maybe go back and watch his previous appearances on this show!)

Everyone is yelling, and somehow Nelson Mandela is part of why everyone is yelling.

McLaughlin is like, "OBAMACARE" and bring up Obama trolling the GOP by saying, "YO IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT, TELL US WHAT YOU WOULD DO." McLaughlin asks if Obama is trying to re-focus attention on the Republican's generic and constant state of not-having-a-plan-for-anything and Ryan is like, "DUH, DUDE, TOTES" and that the Obama administration is starting to get some of their swag back now that the website is working better and people are signing up.

Buchanan says everything is terrible and there's going to be a crash and that five million people have lost their insurance -- which is a talking point that we keep hearing that actually has no sourcing behind it, by the way. I mean it COULD be true? But there also could be a guy with a hook for a hand stalking teens in the park. At the moment, it's "urban legend" status.

Zuckerman also is worried about the guy with the hook for a hand! "THAT HOOK IS SUPER SHARP AND TOTALLY HOOKY, THANKS OBAMA!"

Oh, yay, they have time to do predictions! Buchanan says that Paul Ryan and Patty Murray will "cut a deal" on the budget but it will be "embattled in both houses of Congress." Clift says that the Obama administration is "pulling off" Obamacare and that as a result, Buchanan and Zuckerman will be able to get mental health coverage. Ryan predicts that there will never be another full Obamacare-repeal vote.

Zuckerman gets off the hook when he's asked to describe meeting Nelson Mandela, who he describes as "incandescent," like a light bulb.


Rand Paul and Ezekiel Emanuel will be here, to yell about Obamacare, probably, and then Chris Wallace is going to look back on his ten years of hosting this show, the highlight of which were the six year I had to watch it, I guess.

First, there is a news segment on the fact that Nelson Mandela is dead and people are upset about it. Like The Onion reported:

Following the death of former South African president and civil rights leader Nelson Mandela today at the age of 95, sources confirmed that the revered humanitarian has become the first politician in recorded history to actually be missed.

I don't know if he's the first politician to actually be missed (we miss Václav Havel, too), but with his passing, he's certainly the last politician on earth that isn't wholly expendable -- most of our own politicians in America won't be making their most significant contributions to humanity until they are mulch.

Speaking of, here's Rand Paul, who will one day enable a fine looking copse of trees to flourish somewhere. He went to Detroit to try to meet some poor people, and establish "Economic Freedom Zones," in which corporate taxes (keep in mind that their rates are nominally high but because of loopholes we actually capture very little revenue) are held to artificially low rates, public schools are undermined by vouchers, and immigration rules are slackened so that foreign entrepeneurs can make use of the low-wage workers who live there, enjoying no workplace protections.

This is actually an idea that Herman Cain had, that we might commonly know as "Saipan" or also, as Cord Jefferson once wryly put it: "Get the Blacks Back to Work by Killing Them All in Warehouse Fires."

Paul says that while Obama has been using the government to "pick winners and losers," his plan won't do that -- except for making all these foreign investors big winners because, again, no tax and low wage and no need to offer nominal labor rights makes you a big big winner.

Wallace points out the fact that actual Detroiters, when they express their opinion or vote, tend to support things other than Rand Paul and his ideas, but he asks instead as to whether he supports unemployment benefits.

Paul says that he supports unemployment benefits for a period of time, but after 26 weeks, if you are still helping the long-term unemployed avoid starving or freezing to death, "you do a disservice to these workers." Yes, clearly, the Great Chain Of Being has marked these workers for extermination, and if they had any sense of duty to America they would fill their pockets with rocks and nobly walk into some deep body of water. It would be a disservice to continue to foster the illusion that they are morally worthy of a continued existence.

Paul notes that employers discriminate against the long-term unemployed, but for some reason sees this as people who are "allowed to be unemployed" for a long time. No, no, Rand Paul! Those people have been desperately, desperately trying to get a job for many years now. They have not been "allowed" anything!

Seriously, read more about what unemployment is like. I've read many stories in which the unemployed are essentially considering doing what Paul is suggesting they do -- kill themselves.

Paul is correct that the Obama administration's approach to unemployment hasn't gotten us back to the point where we're adding enough workers to the labor force on a monthly basis -- this has been a problem going back a decade -- and that black unemployment is staggeringly high.

Removing the threadbare safety net under the 99-week unemployed won't help them a whit, though! There are still only one job opening for every four job seekers, and there is massive discrimination against the long-term unemployed to boot. Paul literally calls it a "disservice," twice, to continue to keep these people alive.

It is true that if more unemployed people opt to enter the ground of a Potter's field, as corpses, we will solve unemployment very quickly.

Moving to Obamacare, Wallace -- very cleverly! -- frames what Paul and his colleagues want to do to Obamacare as a circumstance that will cause 105 million Americans would get letters from their insurers telling them that they were losing some health care.

As "If You Like Your Plan You Can Keep It Gate" has played out, I've been very pleased. Because in the short run, we have a falsehood the President offered being criticized -- a too-rare occurence faced by people in power. In the long run, we have a new world in which a letter of bad news from an insurance company is now the new threshold for outrage. I am going to enjoy enforcing that standard! It's going to be great when someone guts Medicare!

Does Paul have a plan to help those people, who are losing essential preventative health benefits? Not really. He has a wager -- that more people will lose coverage under Obamacare than will gain it. A lot of those people who do gain it will gain it for the first time in their lives, however, so he'd better figure something out! The "I finally got health insurance but then Rand Paul took it away from me" letters are going to play SO WELL with reporters!

Paul, for example, advocates "selling insurance across state lines" which means, "millions of Americans get letters from their insurance companies telling them that they will lose a lot of benefits unless they want to pay super-sky-high premiums." That will be a lot of fun for reporters to cover, too! "Selling insurance across state lines" will keep the media in "sad letters from insurance companies" for a considerable amount of time.

Wallace is now asking Paul a stupid question about Amazon drones, because of his drone filibuster. Paul patiently explains that drones that do not surveil people or kill people extrajudically are not a thing he's ever had a problem with.

That was a super dumb question, even for a Sunday show.

As for the NSA, Paul would "apply the 4th Amendment to third party records" and says that in his opinion, you don't give up your right to privacy when you contract with a phone or internet company. "A warrant applies to one person, not every person in America," he says. It's sort of adorable to think that there are people who still think the 4th Amendment still exists!

Getting tens of thousands of warrants is a "pain," Paul says, but that's the way the nation's laws were built.

Is Paul going to run for President? He says, "the though has crossed my mind" but he also has "family considerations" to think about -- such as "the haters and hacks" who go after families. I believe he is referring to Mark Halperin and John Heilemann there.

But guess what, Wallace fails to trick Paul into giving a definitive answer to the question, "Are you running for President."

Lifetime record of Sunday show hosts during the liveblog? Zero and 34, 728. Keep f--king that chicken, losers!

Now Zeke Emanuel is here, because the website is no longer a complete, towering failure and is now actually sort of okay. So the White House is trying to get their swagger back, but you should still probably have some concerns.

I recommend reading Matt O'Brien's "Now That the Website Works, Here's the Smart Way to Worry About Obamacare." Then, pop on over to read Sarah Kliff on the importance of "834 transmissions" and how many the website is still getting wrong.

We'll see if Emanuel gets a question on 834 transmissions.

Yes! He does, first question. In fact, Wallace has read Kliff's piece! Good man. "Isn't a ten percent error rate still a serious problem?"

Emanuel says that they are working very hard to fix the transmissions, and the insurers are helping. Apparently, the 834 problem got pushed down the "punch list" to make way for other fixes, and one of the bugs that's still messing this up has been identified in the meantime.

Wallace: "Still a problem, wouldn't you agree?" Emanuel says that they are addressing it, and that Wallace said that they couldn't fix the problems they did fix. "I never said that," Wallace said, "You are making that up."

The last time these two spoke, anyway, they didn't spend a lot of time talking about whether or not the website would get fixed.

What about getting young people signed up? Because according to a poll, 47% of people between 18-28 won't sign up. Emanuel doesn't think that it's a very useful poll, citing the fact that in California, for example, the actual people signing up match the age grouping they want.

Wallace changes the subject, saying, "Well, the Obama administration has made it a goal to sign up 7 million people," and Emanuel says no, that's the number of people the CBO projected would sign up, not a magic number we need.

What about the 2.7 million people between the ages of 18 and 30? Wallace says the California example is wrong, Emanuel says that it's right. He also points out that people till the age of 26 will remain on their parents' health plan. (Doesn't that nice benefit undermine things though?)

Well, to Emanuel's mind, no: the combination of available preventative care, affordable Silver plans, and the fact that there is an individual mandate penalty to pay will mean that those in the 26-34 age group will sign up. Also, no one's mounted a big P.R. campaign to encourage them to sign up yet, because the website has been so FUBAR. He says that such a campaign is about to be launched.

Wallace disputes this, Emanuel disputes the disputation. I guess we're going to find out who is right one way or the other!

We move on to the "If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor," which is a new specious framing of an actual promise that Obama made. Jonathan Chait has already put this matter to bed.

Does Emanuel think that Kathleen Sebelius or Marilyn Taverner should be fired? He is not going to answer that, and he doesn't answer that. But the answer is: Perhaps! But I'd recommend reforming the IT procurement and contractor process first!

Panel-schmanel time, with Brit Hume and Julie Pace and George Will and Juan Williams.

Will populism help the Democrats in 2014? Hume says probably not, but it's definitely an attempt to "change the subject and rally the base," but he doubts he will make the massive national economic disempowerment of a once great nation a massive national issue. (Hume also says that income inequality is "way down the list" of voter priorities. Not true, if we consider "solving the unemployment crisis" as a necessary pre-cursor to solving income inequality.)

Hume says that "the president can sometimes use the bully pulpit to elevate an issue." This is also not true. Man, if we could all survive by eating bullshit, these Sunday shows would help alleviate income inequality!

Obama says that what fouled up the Obamacare roll-out is agencies that are "outdated." Will interprets that as "Obama is learning that government is too big." What Obama is actually saying is more like, "Everyone in government is still using Blackberries." Again, "outdated" probably means on some level, "too big." But more importantly it means that the government builds big IT projects as if we were using ENIAC computers.

It happens. Nations with mature leaders and functional democracies learn the obvious lessons, divorce themselves from ideological talking points, and advance. It's kind of embarrassing, watching America get lapped in the "functional modern democracy" category.

Now Pik Botha is here to reminisce about Nelson Mandela. Rather than liveblog it, here's the man in his own words.



First: it is snowing in some places in America.

Next: today is the National Day of Prayer and Reflection in South Africa. By all accounts, these remembrances are actually proud and jubilant -- in the background, it looks like it's more like a street festival than a funeral, a New Orleans-do with a quicker and more constant tempo.

Maya Angelou is here to talk about Mandela. She wrote "His Day Is Done," in tribute to him:

Angelou says that she was approached by the State Department approached her to compose this poem some time ago, as Mandela's health declined, and that everyone involved kept it under wraps, as agreed, until 48 hours after Mandela's death.

She describes the way African politics emerged in the apartheid era, as the African National Congress began to take on the challenge as a period in which even those who arrayed themselves against the apartheid regime would typically stew in argument with one another -- save Mandela, who never had a "cross word with anyone."

Angelou says that without Mandela, "blood would have run in the streets" at the end of apartheid. Mandela, she says, emerged from jail "smiling," and embracing everyone.

She says that now, people take vacation in South Africa, and this is amazing to her.

She puts Mandela's life in religious context like so: "“I think it’s a center in knowing there is something greater than you, and that that greatness might be called Allah, or Yahweh, or God, or whatever you call it, but there is something greater than you, and that’s a good thing to do, you can stand on the good foot...You can say the kind thing, you can be generous, you can, and he showed us that..He showed us also how liberating it is to forgive.”

Asked if there was one thing she'd teach people about Mandela, it would be his capacity for kindness and forgiveness -- which she says is a "gift to yourself, to forgive."

Now, Schieffer talks to Professor Randall Robinson, who staged famous sit-ins at the South African Embassy back in 1984. The United States, at the time, "were the legs upon which apartheid stood," and they acted to start to undermine that. His actions inspired thousands of citizens to protest (and get arrested) at the Embassy, and Congresspersons (such as Ted Kennedy) to get involved.

Robinson said that he did imagine that Mandela would get out of prison, but also felt like enough work had been done to ensure that a younger generation would take up the work. He notes that millions of homes have been constructed in South Africa, salaries of black South Africans have triples, and, at one celebration in South Africa, a ceremonial fighter jet demonstration was carried out by black, female South African pilots.

James A. Baker III, formerly chief of staff of the pro-apartheid Reagan White House, is now here to express regret all over the place for that stuff. Schieffer asks, "Did Reagan ever some to regret" vetoing the anti-apartheid bill that Congress eventually overrode in 1986?

BAKER: Well, I'm sure he did regret it, in fact I'm certain that he did. It was, after all, the only time a veto of his had been overridden.

So, what, did he regret being embarrassed by the parliementary shenanigans that previewed him being on the wrong side of history? O-kay!

Baker continues, "On the other hand, once that happened and control of South Africa policy passed through the Congress, President Reagan was really determined to meet with the black leaders of South Africa and deal with the problems of apartheid, and he was able to do so."

Cool. Glad he finally met with some black people from Africa. Good work. Nice effort.

Anyway, Baker says "He had an enduring and endearing presence of dignity that I don’t think I’ve ever seen on any other person, and I just have always felt that this was an extraordinarily beautiful human being who became, of course, an icon of freedom, of human rights and of reconciliation.”

Why did it take so long to get Mandela off the terrorist watch list? Baker doesn't know. Instead he tells a story about Mandela coming to his institute at Rice University: “A 12-year-old boy asked him after his presentation: ‘How do you want to be remembered, Mr. Mandela? Everyone talks about how you’re almost a saint’...and Mandela said, ‘I’m no saint unless you consider a saint to be a sinner who keeps on trying.’ And I thought that was a wonderful encapsulation of the person.”

So, Nelson Mandela was like a guy wrongly put on a terrorist watchlist, who kept on trying, I guess.

Schieffer also talked to Colin Powell about Mandela a while back, and Powell says that the most impressive thing was that he "talked about truth and reconciliation," saying that to wish harm upon the people who once jailed him was to keep his "mind and soul" imprisoned. John Lewis told Schieffer that Mandela "taught all of us how to live, how not to become bitter and hostile."

Some news: international nuclear inspectors have been given access to a facility that was previously deemed off limits. Meanhile Rouhani is getting "heckled" by hardliners who hate reform, and Iranian students that want even more freedom.

Also in Afghanistan, this is happening:

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned that a U.S. retreat from Afghanistan at the end of 2014 is entirely possible if Afghan President Hamid Karzai continues to refuse to sign a security agreement that will keep a handful of American and NATO troops in the country after 2014 to advise the Afghan security forces.

“I hope he'll come to the right decision on this. Because we need that bilateral security agreement signed for our own planning, for our own purposes, as well as our international partners,” Hagel told CBS News State Department correspondent Margaret Brennan in an interview from Afghanistan, where he is traveling.

Hagel warned that there is “a very real possibility” that the U.S. will have to make a full retreat from the country at the end of 2014 if Karzai doesn’t sign the agreement.

“If we don't have a bilateral security agreement, which I've noted, that means we can't protect our forces that would be here after 2014, no international partners will come, Afghanistan essentially will be alone. But we have no other options,” he said.

“Unless we have the security of an agreement to protect our forces…then we'll have no choice. We will not be able to stay,” he said.

Hey, yeah, why don't we just get the heck up on out of there, in any event!

The stupid CBS reporter essentially asks, "Well if American forces leave in those circumstances, won't that be a retreat?" Yeah, man, geo-politics is an important dick-measuring contest in which people have to pointless die and for which we have to keep setting money on fire, otherwise someone might say, "NEENER NEEDER YOU GUYS RETREATED!" and we're too insecure with ourselves to reflect upon the fact that our young and capable soldiers are alive and we aren't pissing wealth away by the fistful.

Now we'll panel with Gayle King, Lorraine Miller, Gwen Ifill, Michele Norris, and Rick Stengel. So, now we know what has to happen to flip the typical Sunday morning panel ratio of four white people to one black person to the reverse: the most famous black person in the world has to die.

Rick Stengel by the way, once wrote a book titled "Mandela's Way: Lessons on Life, Love, and Courage." Later, he would leave Time Magazine for the State Department. Nancy Gibbs would take over as Time's managing editor. One of the first things she did was fix it so that all of the women at Time received compensation commensurate to their male equivalent.

I like to think that Gibbs was like, "Wow, why hasn't anyone demonstrated that they learned a lesson about courage from Nelson Mandela around here, for Pete's sake!"

Gayle King says that Mandela said that it was important to "have dinner with your enemies" to get things done, so it's nice to know that Nelson Mandela wasn't perfect and that he got things really badly wrong from time to time.

Stengel notes that Mandela's health has been declining for some time, and everyone who knows him has largely been getting used to the idea that he would die for some time. This probably plays a big role in how jubilant the people in South Africa are, in the clips I'm seeing. Schieffer wasn't kidding when he said that Mandela's whole life was a lesson in reconciliation -- even the way Mandela died seems now to have been an exercise in bringing people together.

Norris says that privately, Mandela had some residual bitterness toward those who had imprisoned him, but he was so disciplined that it never bled out from behind private walls. Ifill notes that he was a "shrewd and steely politician" as well. She frets, a bit, that none of South Africa's current or future leaders measure up to Mandela's level, as the nation faces its current challenges.

There is some crosstalk.

Schieffer asks if Mandela had "an entourage," or a lot of people who helped him with speeches and what not. Stengel says that in the early days, he "did not have a lot of people around him" and that made his "learning curve somewhat astonishing." He wasn't the world's greatest speaker though, as a result, Stengel admits -- but he answered his own door and made his own bed, too.

Anyway, I don't have a lot of deep thoughts about this, other than to say that more people should draw their inspiration from and seek to emulate a guy like Nelson Mandela, than should draw their inspiration and seek to emulate some jerk who does a liveblog about the Sunday morning political shows.

That's probably as good a place to leave this as any to leave things. I hope everyone has a wonderful week, and we'll meet back here in seven days.

[The Sunday Morning liveblog returns on December 15, 2013 In the meanwhile, feel free to check out my Rebel Mouse page for fun and informative reads from the interwebs.]